Updated: Sep 18, 2018
Psalm 31:13–14 (ESV) … 13 For I hear the whispering of many— terror on every side! — as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. 14 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
The emotional heart of the psalm is the lament found in verses 9–13, in which David tells the Lord of his present distress and danger.
In Psalm 31 the problem does not seem to be illness, though the language sounds like it, but rather the danger created by David’s enemies. For that reason, the language used to describe bodily affliction should be seen primarily as metaphorical or at least as poetically exaggerated.
The chief problem (v. 13) is that his enemies had surrounded him on all sides and were conspiring together to take his life. This was literally true during much of David’s reign. The kingdom was surrounded by hostile neighbors, just as the present nation of Israel is surrounded by hostile Arab neighbors. But David may also be thinking of plots within his kingdom by Jewish enemies or of the days he had to flee from King Saul.
Because of the enormity of this danger and of his own apparent weakness, David was scorned by his neighbors and was even deserted by his friends (vv. 11–12). Many people have experienced this. As long as we are successful or influential or rich, everyone wants to know us and be considered our friend. But as soon as we lose these advantages, people desert us. This is the way of the world. We should not be surprised at it. We should only be thankful that God is quite different.